Sometimes You Can Hate The Work You Love

Azriela Jaffe
©1999All Rights Reserved

When I made my living as a Human Resource Director for several large companies, I was drawn to the expression, "Do what you love and the money will follow." I was earning a good salary in my profession, and certain aspects of my jobs I really enjoyed. I had some neat assignments and I appreciated some of the relationships I formed during those years, but in my fifteen years in the Human Resource profession, I loved only about 25 percent of it; Mostly, it was a job.

I would dream, on many a day, of what it would feel like when I was doing what I loved and the money was following. Bestselling author, popular columnist, professional business coach, inspirational speaker. I yearned to be all of these. I wanted the money and the freedom that comes with wealth. I wanted the respect and power that comes with fame. Mostly, I wanted to love my work.

And so, with these hopes in my heart, on April Fools day, (ironically), in 1995, I worked my last day in my job as a Human Resource Director for Lutheran Social Services of New England, and I embarked wholeheartedly on my new career as an author and columnist. Four years later, the money is finally following, I've published three books, and on more days than ever before in my prior career, I do love what I do. But I wish someone had warned me about the days I would hate what I do, also. So, I'm telling you, in case you are sitting where I was a few years ago, dreaming of what you believe will be your nirvana when you quit your job, so that you can "do what you love."

The paradox of work and anything and anyone to which you commit your heart, energy, and time, is that where there is love, there will surely be hate as well. This emotion -hate- always startles me when I experience it, because it so contradicts what I thought I would feel once I left my job and pursued my writing dreams full-time. I knew that I would miss the salary and benefits. I understood that self-employment has its unique challenges that would, at times, frustrate and frighten me. I recognized that on most days, my work would not be glamorous - it would just be work, and a lot of it.

I knew all of this, but I wasn't prepared for the moments when I really despise being a writer. When I want to yell at God, and say, "Why did you put me in this crazy profession? Why did you give me just the kind of work that pushes all of my buttons and brings me to tears on some days?" I wasn't prepared for the feelings that well up in my heart that are the antithesis of loving my work, emotions so intense that my previous distaste for my work pales in comparison. Can you love and hate your work at the same time?

And then I think of my marriage to my dear husband, Stephen, and I know the answer. I know what it feels like to have conflicting feelings in my heart, because I can love my husband and be angry with him at the same time. In fact, it is the expectation that love erases all fear and anger that gets married folks in trouble. Such fantasies of romantic love aren't sustainable over the long term. "Happily" married people aren't couples who never get angry with their mates. On the contrary - the more you love someone, the more easily they can hurt you, and the more agitated you become when they let you down. The truth is, hatred and love are very close neighbors.

Now I see that detesting your work at times is good news. It probably means one of two things: One, your heart is actively engaged in what you do. If you care deeply about the end result, when something doesn't go well on a given day, it will matter a great deal. It will irritate you with an intensity that you never felt in a job you didn't care much about. In fact, you should worry if that feeling ever goes away, replaced by complacency or numbness. Bless your passion for your work, even when it shows up as anger and disappointment.

Second, I believe that God - or whatever power in the universe you believe in - knows exactly what he or she is doing by placing you in a profession that pushes all of your buttons. Alongside joy is always pain. Learning always brings discomfort. Your "soul work" is designed not only to bring you money, but also growth. Feel compassion for those who are in jobs that are so routine and deadened, they sleep through the experience. Would you trade places, even on your bad days, with those who feel nothing but emptiness in their work? I think not. I surely wouldn't.

The famous phrase should be expanded: "Do what you love, and the money will follow, and so will the anger, and frustration, and sadness that stems from being a human being, passionately committed to something, and at the mercy of forces out of your control." Even when you are doing what you love, you'll hate it sometimes. I'm luckier than most. At least, when I'm having a bad day at work, I can write about it.

Azriela Jaffe is the founder of "Anchored Dreams" (www.isquare.cim/crlink), and author of several books including Honey,I Want to Start my Own Business, A Planning Guide for Couples ( Harper Business 1996), and Let's Go Into Business Together, Eight Secrets for Successful Business Partnering (Avon Books 1998) and Starting from No, Ten Strategies to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Succeed in Business (Dearborn, April 1999), and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beating Debt (MacMillan, 2000) ( For free online newsletter for entrepreneurial couples, best ideas in business, or marketing on the web, or for information about her syndicated column, "Advice from A-Z", email

Category: Work-Life, Balance
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